15-Minute Workouts You Can Actually Squeeze in Before Work
If you're not a morning person, the idea of strapping on sneakers and schlepping to the gym at 6:30am is a total joke. But what if you could get an effective workout at home in the amount of time between snooze alarms?
Four fitness experts, ranging from a celeb trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp to a marathoner, shared ideas for morning workouts you can do before work, in your pajamas, in just 15 minutes. When you try the in-bed workout, you’ll have no excuse not to sweat in the morning.
The still-in-bed workout
You don’t have to leave your bedroom to do this full-body, cardio-strength workout. Brynn Putnam, a certified personal trainer and founder of high-intensity interval-training studio Refine Method, says that the elevated surface of a bed adds an extra challenge to these morning exercises.
Perform these five exercises for 60 seconds each. Repeat the sequence three times.
Single-leg sit to stand: Sit on the edge of your bed with your right leg extended in front of you and your left foot on the ground (knee bent). Use your glutes to lift yourself off the bed into a standing position on one leg. Hinge forward 45 degrees, send your hips back, and sit down. Switch legs and repeat.
Elevated push-ups: Lying with your stomach down, grab the edge of the bed with your inner elbows facing in. Step your feet back into plank position with your abs tight. Lower yourself to the bed, then extend your arms to lift yourself up.
Step-ups: Standing next to the bed, place your right foot on the bed and hinge forward 45 degrees. Step your left leg up, driving through your right foot and engaging your right glute. Hinge forward and slowly step down with your left foot. Switch sides and repeat.
Plank to side plank: Come to a plank position on the bed with your hands under your shoulders. Squeeze your abs, place your right arm flat on the bed and lift your left arm, focusing on keeping your hips in line with your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the left side.
Double-leg hip lift: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the bed, hip-width apart. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up, keeping your shoulders on the bed and arms extended beneath the hips. Only lift high enough that you feel your glutes working with no help from your lower back. Lower down slowly and repeat.
Runner's "speed play" workout
For this workout, Beth Weinstein, an endurance runner and founder of running-gear brand OnlyAtoms, looked to Sweden for inspiration. “One of the most effective and quick workouts you can do in 15 minutes is the ‘fartlek,’ a Swedish word meaning 'speed play,'” she says of the technique, which involves mixing sprinting with jogging at varying intervals. While you don't need to prep your muscles before the workout, she recommends stretching after. "To save time, stretch in the shower," Weinstein suggests. "Your muscles will be warmer!”
This workout involves different levels of effort on a scale from one to 10. Think of one as a brisk walk and 10 as a full-fledged sprint with maximum effort.
Start with a warm-up, jogging at a level-five effort for four minutes.
For the next eight minutes, run at varying intervals, gradually increasing the time spent running at full speed. Run for one minute at a level nine or 10, then slow to a five to seven for 45 seconds. Speed back up to maximum effort for 90 seconds, then slow down to a medium-fast jog for 45 seconds. Speed back up to the maximum for two full minutes, then slow down to a level six to eight for two minutes.
Cool down with a slow jog (level three to six) for three minutes.
The wake-up shake-up
The notoriously difficult Barry’s Bootcamp may not be your speed first thing in the morning, so Derek DeGrazio, owner of Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Beach and Midtown Miami, offered a slightly less-intense routine you can do while you’re getting ready for work. "Add these little tweaks to your mornings, and in no time, you’ll see a change in your body as you are changing your clothes," he says.
Brush and balance: Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for 30 seconds in each quadrant of your mouth. While brushing, stand on one foot, raise the other to a 90-degree angle in front of you, hold for 30 seconds as you brush the first quadrant. After 30 seconds, switch legs and balance on the other side for 30 seconds while brushing quadrant two. Repeat each leg again for quadrants three and four.
The coffee table: Firmly stand with your back against the wall. Slide down the wall, as if you were sitting down, until your bent legs are at a 90-degree angle. Your legs are now a "coffee table," says DeGrazio. "If your form is perfect, you should be able to place a cup of coffee on your legs and enjoy!" Balance for 60 seconds, stand up for a brief rest, then repeat for a total of three sets.
[Note: Maybe try practicing this one with an empty plastic cup before moving on to scalding beverages.]
Abs and email: Rather than conducting your first inbox scan from bed, do it in a low-plank position with your elbows to the ground. Hold the plank for 60 seconds as you respond to emails with your phone on the floor. Rest and repeat for three minutes.
Shoe move: Even putting on your shoes turns into a workout in this routine. Place your shoes and socks 3ft in front of you. Lunge forward with your left foot, keeping your knee behind your foot, chest out, and shoulder blades back. Carefully bend at your waist and put on your sock. Repeat on the other side, then do the same move as you put on shoes.
Style squat: As you style your hair, do a squat. Hold for 30 seconds, quick rest, then "repeat until your hair is fly or your legs are on fire."
This routine isn’t your grandma’s yoga practice. Laurenn Cutshaw, a former collegiate gymnast who’s now the vice president of marketing at chain studio Yoga Six, promises noticeable results from this 15-minute morning workout, including a stronger, leaner body and a clearer, calmer head -- just what you need before a hectic morning commute.
Do each of the following exercises for 90 seconds (six to eight full breaths). Repeat the routine twice.
Cat/cow: Start in tabletop position. Inhale and release your belly toward the floor, slightly concaving your spine into the cow position. As you exhale, press the floor away and round your spine into the cat position. Repeat six to eight times.
Core-focused tabletop: From a tabletop position, reach back with your right arm and catch your left foot. Gently kick your foot into your hand and lift through your chest. Take four to six breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Seated twist: In a cross-legged position, inhale and rotate your torso to the right, using your left hand on your right knee for leverage. Exhale to center, then repeat on the opposite side. Repeat this twist several times.
Seated side bend: In a cross-legged position, inhale and reach both arms overhead. Exhale and bend to the right, dropping your right hand to the floor and extending your left hand over your head. Pause for a breath, repeat on the other side, then continue to go through the cycle for 90 seconds.
Supine figure 4: While lying on your back, bend both knees and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Interlace your fingers behind the left thigh and gently pull, keeping your right foot flexed. Stay for eight deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
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Joni Sweet is an overworked writer and editor with no more excuses not to squeeze in a workout. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @JoniSweet.